Conflicts of interest exist in almost every business model...just ask the former AIG execs who bought trillions of dollars worth of mortgage CDO risk that they were told was worthy of a AAA rating.
But when you read a car review to help figure out which set of wheels you're going to buy next, you would probably prefer that the writer of that review not be receiving payments, cash or otherwise, directly from the company producing the vehicle he's reviewing, right? Unfortunately, that's not so much the case when it comes to Tesla.
While it's no surprise that the writers of Electrek are big Tesla cheerleaders, as Jack Baruth of TTAC points out today, what may be surprising is just how much those writers receive from Tesla via their very generous referral program in return for their perpetually rosy commentary.
Take the work of Fred Lambert, for example...at the bottom of each article penned by Lambert he generously offers you the opportunity to use his Tesla "referral code" to get $1,000 off a Tesla Model S or X...
And while we're sure the referral discount is simply intended as a nice gesture to readers, it gets a lot more interesting when you realize exactly what those referrals are worth. As Baruth notes, a mere 4 referrals can be worth nearly $15,000 of free Tesla swag.
Referrals one and two are worth at least $500 each. Referral three is worth between four and seven thousand dollars on the resale market. Referral four is worth $7,200. That’s if you refer new Tesla cars. Referring new Tesla solar will get you $400 in cash, or $750 in credit, per referral.
Meanwhile, Electrek writer Jameson Dow has over 20 referrals which TTAC estimates could be worth roughly $60,000.
Electrek’s Jameson Dow has twenty referrals. Depending on when he made them, and the conditions of each program, we could be talking about more than sixty thousand dollars in items that can be easily resold for cash. Fred Lambert has six referrals, for a total of ten grand or more. This is all direct from Tesla. We’re not talking the kind of paid vacations against which this site has traditionally railed, nor are we talking about freebies like Jonny Lieberman’s no-cost year in a $65,000 Cadillac station wagon. We’re talking cold hard cash possibilities.
And while you might think that the public revelation of these very clear conflicts of interest might be met with some level of embarrassment and remorse, when called out on Twitter, Electrek write Fred Lambert doubled down by calling his accusers a bunch of "jealous hypocrites."
So what say you...outrageous scandal that should be halted immediately or just a bunch of "jealous hypocrites" looking to "criminalize behavior that is normal?"